Sehwag\'s bluff, Wright\'s woes, Watson\'s golden arm and more in Cricketnext\'s review of the third week of the sixth season of the IPL.
Entertainer of the week
There is but one man who can thrill the senses in the most unbridled way - Christopher Henry Gayle. Anyone who witnessed Gayle's audacious assault on the hapless Pune Warriors bowling in Bangalore on Tuesday will testify to having seen the most amazing innings played in Twenty20 cricket.
Gayle slammed an unbeaten 175 off 66 balls, in the process breaking a spate of records [LINK TO http://ibnlive.in.com/news/cricketnext/chris-gayle-smashes-the-record-books-with-berserk-century/387284-78.html], to power the hosts to a record total of 263 for 5. In all, he struck 17 sixes and needed 30 balls for his century. Before the evening was over, Gayle pocketed two wickets in his only over and broke into his Gangnam dance to send the RCB fans into raptures. Chris Gayle, you rock.
Innings of the week
Yes, of course this belonged to Gayle but we are making an exception here because the innings in case came from Virender Sehwag, and who cannot admire Sehwag batting at full throttle? Plus, it delivered Delhi Daredevils their first win after six straight losses.
Sehwag came into Sunday's match at the Feroz Shah Kotla with scores of 12, 25 and 17 in IPL 6 but found refreshingly reverted to his dazzling best with an unbeaten 95 off 57 balls to chase down a target of 162 with an entire three overs remaining. He bolted away with a series of boundaries off Jasprit Bumrah and Munaf Patel to help Delhi take 60 off the Powerplay, and then led a record 151-run opening stand with Mahela Jayawardene. It was vintage Sehwag, sending the ball to all parts of the park and leaving Mumbai Indians in a daze.
Quote of the week
"I bluffed and thought that I have been in-form. Viv Richards spoke about bluffing, he said even if a batsman feels scared inside, he should show that he is confident, he has the self-belief. That has helped." Sehwag admitted after collecting the Man-of-the-Match award for his 95 not out that a few words of advice from the former West Indies captain, now signed on as Delhi's ambassador, had come in handy.
Tragedy team of the week
Following a penultimate-ball lost to Kings XI Punjab and Gaylestorm, Pune have now lost three matches in a row to sit with the worst net run rate among all nine teams: -1.467. Wins over Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings were followed by a hat-trick of defeats to leave the embattled franchise on four points from eight matches.
Catch of the week
The winner is Mr Cricket. He may have given up international cricket, but Michael Hussey is proving invaluable in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings. The catch in mention came at Eden Gardens last Saturday, and snapped an opening stand of 46 for hosts Kolkata Knight Riders just before the end of the Powerplay. Gautam Gambhir cut the ball the air down towards third man, where sprinting to his left, Hussey took a low catch. It was dying on Hussey, but he plucked it inches off the ground.
Unwanted stat of the week
Until April 20, Jacques Kallis had never been dismissed without facing a delivery in any international format or the IPL. But against CSK, he was run out without facing to achieve his first diamond duck in representative cricket. Kallis watched as Yusuf Pathan played the ball straight to point and called for the risky single, and S Badrinath knocked down the stumps with a brilliant hit. Without facing a ball, Kallis had done his team plenty of damage.
Ball of the week
In a week highlighted by carnage with the bat, R Ashwin provided the purists something delightful - a traditional ofspinner's dismissal. It came when the Rajasthan Royals openers Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane were compiling a platform thick and fast. Ashwin - who for most of the tournament had relied on carom balls - slipped in a teasing offbreak to Rahane who made room to cut but was beaten for sharp turn. That ball had all the attributes of a perfect offbreak: it was slow in the air, flighted, turned sharply and bounced too. As Ashwin celebrated with his CSK team-mates, the giant TV screen flashed "Ash good as it gets".
Comeback of the week
Watson had not bowled an over in competitive cricket since the Boxing Day Test of 2013 until he was given the ball by his Rajasthan captain Rahul Dravid in the match against RCB on Saturday. His first ball was a loosener - a full ball outside off which Gayle put away for four. However, Watson proved his arm was still golden when he got Tillakaratne Dilshan to nick behind in the over.
Entry of the week
Batting for the first time in the IPL, England allrounder Luke Wright made an immediate impact with the bat as he smacked 37 off 10 balls to turn a fighting total into a dominating one for Pune Warriors. Or so it seemed until he conceded 16 in the last five balls of KXIP's chase ... but more on that in a bit. Walking to the middle with Pune 142 for 3 in 17.1 overs, Wright blasted his first four balls for fours to ensure 17 came off the 18th over bowled by Azhar Mahmood.
On his fifth delivery, Wright charged Praveen Kumar and lofted four more over extra cover; on the sixth, a dab to third man went through Parvinder Awana's legs to give Wright another boundary; the seventh was squeezed through midwicket for two; the eighth dumped over midwicket for six; two more came off the next as Wright chipped through midwicket. In nine balls, he had scored 37. Looking for the six that could have taken his strike-rate back to 400, Wright fell to Mahmood on the second ball of the last over.
Fatal bowling change of the week
Twenty overs later, Wright found himself experience a range of contrasting emotions. In fact, he wore a forlorn look after conceding 16 runs in five balls as David Miller smacked two sixes to seal a thrilling seven-wicket win for Punjab with one delivery remaining. Wright, having conceded 20 off his first two overs, was entrusted with bowling the last six balls of the match from which Punjab needed 16 to win. Miller was batting on 65 off 37 balls having revived his team from 58 for 3 in the company of Mandeep Singh, and struck a wide ball from Wright over extra cover, harried between the wickets for two, and then drilled a full toss over long-off to clear the Punjab dugout.